Theater seemed like an impossible thing lately, but this production of Alice in Wonderland could rekindle anyone’s belief in the magic of live storytelling.
Based on the Lewis Carroll novel, Simon Morgan’s adaptation of Strange Fascination was first performed three years ago, but was dusted off after rehearsals for a new show were dropped due to a coronavirus.
And what better story for a year that is becoming more and more curious?
Hayley Evenett is full of innocent energy as the ever-curious Alice, bouncing from stage to stage with a brilliantly expressive face and engaging physicality.
The rest of the cast play multiple roles in this surreal story, using Daisy Packett’s costumes and puppets to create a technicolor world of weirdness and fun.
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There are also a lot of songs, from almost lyrical renditions of Helen Fullerton as Mock Turtle to James Ducker’s surprising turn into Mad Hatter rapper. Fullerton is also excellent as a fiercely pouting and easily pissed off queen of the deer.
Director Simon Michael-Morgan is the ever-troubled White Rabbit, with a nice sardonic sideline. Its dramatic timing is perfect: the action is quick and engaging throughout.
Social distancing restrictions keep audiences a bit apart and limit interactions with the cast, but there are still plenty of opportunities for viewers to get involved.
The resulting summer pantomime skillfully mixes the silly fun and colorful absurdity of Carroll’s story with his witty pun, making it a truly enjoyable game for adults and kids alike – and a brilliant escape from the madness of the real world.
My recommendation is to drink it, eat it, swallow it whole!
Alice in Wonderland is on tour through Norfolk with performances at Hoveton Hall near Wroxham on August 15; Catton Park, Norwich on August 16 and Raynham Hall, near Fakenham on August 22. Tickets must be reserved in advance from ticketsource.co.uk/strange-fascination-theatre